How Much Do You Need?
It is easy to recognize the new doula at a birth. She/he is often the person toting the birth ball over their shoulder and lugging a large, heavy suitcase. The bag is often filled with massage tools, lotions and potions, visual aids, camera, notebook, food, drinks, a change of clothes, gifts for the midwives, doctors and nurses, an ice pack, hot water bottle, a cheat sheet or book and much, much more.
The seasoned doula who has gone to a few dozen births often has a smaller shoulder bag and no ball unless it is maybe a peanut ball, since most hospitals don’t have these yet. Her bag has the essentials: a rebozo, a notebook, food and drink, her phone, extra socks for mom, a hair band, lotions or oils and a few types of massaging tools. She may also have a tray of coffee for the staff attending the birth.
The veteran doula has a small backpack. She has a handheld mirror, a notebook, unscented lotion, a few hair elastics, a rebozo, her phone and some food.
Mostly, what is needed is your heart, your hands and a brain. Doulas can make hot/cold packs with things found in the home or hospital. Rebozos, if you know how to use them, are best used as proper rebozos, but in a pinch a big sheet will do the trick. The essentials seem to be things you cannot grab easily in the middle of the night or in any location. The best suggestion, for the new doula, is to take that big-giant-new-doula-suitcase. Notice what you are using all the time and pare it down after your first six births. Then revisit the bag after a year of practice. Everyone has different favourite things and some of those items shift and change with your ongoing education hours. You should know, too, that if you get called to a birth without a chance to grab your bag, you will be just fine.